Reese Witherspoon in Brazil Fights Violence Against Women

Avon US-based beauty products company Avon is celebrating in Brazil the success of the firm's first-ever global fundraising product, the Women's Empowerment Bracelet, which has sold 1.5 million units since launching in March. Avon Global Ambassador, Reese Witherspoon, told about the campaign, this August 28, at a press conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The bracelet was first launched in March 2008 at the second annual Global Summit for a Better Tomorrow, presented by the United Nations Development Fund for Women, (UNIFEM) in partnership with Avon, at the United Nations in New York City.  Witherspoon has taken this mission to empower women and raise awareness around the world this year, including visits in the United States and Japan.

At Brazil's press conference, she joined female luminaries, Nilcéa Freire, Brazil's Federal Secretary for Women Policies, Ana Falu, UNIFEM Regional Director for the Southern Cone, and bio-chemist and domestic violence survivor, Maria da Penha Maia Fernandes, who pioneered the fight against domestic violence in Brazil and inspired the creation of Maria da Penha Act legislation.

"As the company for women, and on this occasion of 50 years in Brazil, Avon is keenly aware of how important it is to work to put an end to this type of violence," says Luis Felipe Miranda, President of Avon Brazil. "We also understand how delicate the problem is, and the need to involve different sectors of society in this human rights issue which is why our public-private partnership with UNIFEM is so powerful."

"I find it shocking that one billion women globally – that is one in every three women – are affected by violence at some point in their lives. In Latin America, between 30 and 40 percent of all women aged fifteen or older have been subjected to some form of violence, most often by a member of their own family," said Witherspoon.  "That's a statistic we must try to change, and the Women's Empowerment Bracelet is a great way for everyone to contribute."

The bracelet initiative was created to raise awareness about the need to speak out against the violence that affects women around the globe. In support of this mission, proceeds from the Women's Empowerment Bracelet will go to the Avon Empowerment Fund, which will contribute to the UNIFEM-managed UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

The first US$ 500,000 from bracelet sales have been matched in 2008 by the Avon Foundation for a total donation of US$ 1 million for new grants by the UN Trust Fund, representing the single-largest one-year corporate contribution to-date. Additional funds raised will support local domestic violence programs in each country Avon is located.

In Brazil, funds raised will enable UNIFEM to launch a comprehensive public awareness campaign on the groundbreaking Maria da Penha Act, which classifies domestic violence as a human rights violation and provides a new measure of protection for women in danger and requires the active participation of law enforcement and justice officials. 

The UNIFEM initiative is aimed to help implement the law by providing the general public and key audiences, particularly law enforcement and justice officials, with the information they need to know to use its provisions.

"The partnership between Avon and UNIFEM will help women at risk, through the implementation of the Maria da Penha Act.  By working together, we are supporting solutions to end violence against women and girls and promoting women's economic empowerment and rights," said UNIFEM Regional Director Ana Falu.

Avon and UNIFEM's public-private partnership expands the work of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which supports innovative efforts by grass-roots organizations, often working with governments and the UN, to protect women from violence, help survivors access justice and enhance women's empowerment and rights. 

Avon's contribution will increase the UN Trust Fund's grants to programs aimed at implementing laws and policies that reduce violence against women, with a special focus on increasing legal literacy and working with judicial, legal and law enforcement agencies and personnel, and other stakeholders, to increase the awareness, understanding and efficacy of these regulations.

The work carried out in Brazil is part of the Instituto Avon, a non-profit created in Brazil five years ago with the goal of making life better for women in Brazil.  The funds raised in Brazil will expand the reach of Avon's Speak Out Against Domestic Violence campaign.

That campaign was first launched in 2004 in the US, and has already invested more than six million dollars there through the US Avon Foundation, supporting actions aiming to reduce violence against women.  In 2008, with the global launch of the Avon Empowerment Bracelet, more than 30 Avon countries are now supporting Speak Out programs around the world.

Avon is a leading global beauty company, with over US$ 10 billion in annual revenue. As the world's largest direct seller, Avon markets to women in more than 100 countries through over 5.5 million independent Avon Sales Representatives. Avon's product line includes beauty products, fashion jewelry and apparel. 

The Avon Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is the largest corporate foundation for women, with more than US$ 580 million raised worldwide for breast cancer, domestic violence and emergency disaster relief.

UNIFEM is the women's fund at the United Nations. It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programs and strategies to foster women's empowerment and gender equality.

Placing the advancement of women's human rights at the center of all of its efforts, UNIFEM focuses its activities on reducing feminized poverty; ending violence against women; reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls; and achieving gender equality in democratic governance in times of peace as well as war.


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